Coffee consumption linked to lower body fat in women, study shows

Marie Claire Dorking
·4-min read
(Getty Images)
Could drinking two or three cups of coffee a day help in the fight against obesity? (Getty Images)

Female coffee drinkers, rejoice – a new study has suggested women who drink two or three cups of the caffeinated drink a day have less body fat than their coffee-less drinking counterparts.

The research, published in The Journal of Nutrition, found two or three-a-day coffee chuggers have lower total body and abdominal fat than those who drink less.

The research team examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, organised by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US and analysed the relationship between cups of coffee drunk per day, and both total body fat percentage and abdominal or 'trunk' fat (adiposity).

They found that women aged 20-44 who drank two or three cups of coffee per day had the lowest levels of trunk fat, 3.4% lower than non-coffee drinkers.

Among women aged between 45-69, those who drank four or more cups had 4.1% lower trunk fat.

Overall, the average total body fat percentage was 2.8% lower among women of all ages who drank two or three cups of coffee per day.

READ MORE: Drinking four cups of coffee a day reduces high blood pressure

The link was observed in both caffeinated coffee and decaffeinated coffee among women, but not for men.

In men, the relationship was less significant, although men aged 20-44 who drank two or three cups per day had 1.3% less total fat and 1.8% less trunk fat than those who did not drink coffee.

Commenting on the findings Dr Lee Smith, reader in public health at Anglia Ruskin University and senior author of the study, said: “Our research suggests that there may be bioactive compounds in coffee other than caffeine that regulate weight and which could potentially be used as anti-obesity compounds.

“It could be that coffee, or its effective ingredients, could be integrated into a healthy diet strategy to reduce the burden of chronic conditions related to the obesity epidemic.”

But Dr Smith also made it clear it was important to interpret the findings in light of its limitations.

“The study was at a specific point in time so trends cannot be established. However, we don't believe that someone’s weight is likely to influence their coffee consumption.”

A further study from last year also suggested coffee might be the key to losing weight, with researchers finding the caffeinated drink might help the body to burn calories.

Read more: You can now pre-order Pret coffee beans on Amazon

(Getty Images)
Coffee consumption has been linked with weight loss (Getty Images)

But before you reach for the cafetière, another new study has revealed that excess coffee consumption can cause poor health and potentially increased the risk of obesity.

The study, from the University of South Australia’s Australian Centre for Precision Health, analysed data from over 300,000 participants in the UK Biobank.

Researchers examined connections between habitual coffee consumption and a full range of diseases, and found that too much coffee can increase the risk of osteoarthritis, arthropathy (joint disease) and obesity.

Commenting on the findings expert genetic epidemiologist, and study author, Professor Elina Hyppönen, said the research results suggest that moderate coffee drinking is mostly safe.

“But it also showed that habitual coffee consumption increased the risks of three diseases: osteoarthritis, arthropathy and obesity, which can cause significant pain and suffering for individuals with these conditions,” she added.

Read more: We've been making our coffee wrong for decades

Prof Hyppönen said the prevalence of obesity and conditions like it, mean it is important to try to establish possible causes.

“Excess coffee consumption can lead to increased risks of certain diseases,” she added.

“For people with a family history of osteoarthritis or arthritis, or for those who are worried about developing these conditions, these results should act as a cautionary message.

“The body generally sends powerful messages with respect to coffee consumption, so it’s imperative that individuals listen to these when consuming coffee.

“While these results are in many ways reassuring in terms of general coffee consumption, the message we should always remember is consume coffee in moderation – that's the best bet to enjoy your coffee and good health too.”

If you’re looking for an alternative way to justify your coffee-drinking habits, you might be interested in a recent study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, which found a twice daily caffeine hit could help you to live longer.

However, bear in mind excessive coffee drinking can be linked to jitteriness and anxiety, so for some of us, less of the brown stuff is definitely more.